Three years ago today, I gave birth to a 1 lb 7 oz baby boy who forever changed my life.
We had some struggles getting pregnant and there was nothing I wanted more in life than to have a baby. When I saw those two little lines pop up on the pregnancy test in October of 2007 I was overjoyed. Knowing I was going to stay home with my baby, I started daydreaming of all the fun stuff that we would do together. Trips to the park, story time at the library, trips to see the puppies in the pet store at the Mall, walks downtown to get an ice cream cone, etc. I had so many dreams for this little being who at the time was no bigger than a grain of rice.
This was my first child and nothing terrified me more at the time than the thoughts of having a child with a disability. While flipping through the pages of my pregnancy book I imagined what life would be like with a child that had Cerebal Palsy or Down Syndrome and the thought terrified me. This was my first child. I didn't even know how to be a mother to a child never mind one with special needs.
The morning Jacob was born was a cold day in March. It was relatively quiet in the Mother Infant Unit where I had been living for the past 6 days. I was due to be checked out and go home at 10 AM and instead I was down in Labor and Delivery at 5 AM begging the doctors not to let my baby die.
They had told me all the statistics earlier in the week when I first arrived. A 24 weeker has a 39% chance of survival. The closer they get to 25 weeks the more their chances increase closer to the 50% range. He could be born with any number of disabilities (physical and/or mental) and be impaired for the rest of his life. He would definitely spend the first few months of his life in the NICU.....if he even survived. It didn't matter what I had been told all week by neonatologists. I wanted my baby to live and I begged that poor doctor wheeling me into the OR to save my baby. I didn't care what was "wrong" with him. If he was able to have any quality of life then I wanted him here with us. All of my fears of having a child with special needs went out the window. I just wanted my baby to live.
The next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery room shaking violently (side effect of the general anesthesia) and seeing Ian standing next to my bed clutching my purse. "Is he okay?" I asked. "He's pink and he's breathing" was Ian's reply. I really didn't know what that meant at the time, but Ian had assured me they had wheeled him by and Ian had seen him on his way to the NICU, all 1 lb 7 oz and 11 inches of him. His head was the size of a clementine. Our wedding bands easily slid up and down his limbs. He was as big around in the middle as my wrist. He was tiny, but he had survived. For now, my prayers had been answered.
The day of your child's birth is supposed to be the happiest day of your life and that is simply not true for those of us who have had premature babies. In fact, most of us celebrate the day they came home from the NICU more than we celebrate their actual day of birth. Those first few days are numbing. I spent all day in my hospital room crying and staring at the one picture I had of Jacob while Ian was at work and the rest of the world went about their daily lives unaware of what had just happened to us. I was too scared to go see Jacob alone those first few days so I hid out in my room until Ian got to the hospital and he would wheel me down to the NICU to see Jacob. I would usually last a good 10-15 minutes before I started hyperventilating and had to leave. He was so tiny, so bruised, so SICK looking. I couldn't stand the thought of losing him and was worried if I spent too much time down there I would get attached and the loss would be ten times greater.
Slowly, but surely our miracle boy cleared major hurdles. He never developed a brain bleed or NEC, two very serious conditions which can often be death sentences for micro-preemies. His PDA (which nearly all premature babies have) closed with medicine and did not require surgery. He steadily gained weight and we celebrated every milestone, from ventilator to CPAP, 2 pounds, 3 pounds, nasal cannula, 4 pounds, first bath, open air crib, 5 pounds, and three months to the day after he was born, a transfer to a hospital 10 minutes from us. It was there he was weaned off all his medications, monitors and oxygen and sent home three weeks later at 7 lb 9 oz and only 10 days after his original due date.
Today he has officially been discharged from the Early Intervention program and is only in need of speech therapy and wears glasses for farsightedness. Random people on the street would never know the struggles we went through to get Jacob home and now that he is here I make sure everyone who is willing to listen hears Jacob's story. To me, there is no denying in this little child that there is a God and that miracles happen every day.
Happy Birthday, Jacob! We love you!
8 hours ago